'Gannet cam' video: Researchers capture stunning footage of UK's largest seabird
Cameras show bird passing ship, dramatic sea dive, skimming over waves and landing in colony
Tuesday 12 November 2013
Miniature cameras attached to the bodies of the UK's largest seabird have captured stunning footage of them flying high above the Welsh coast.
See video player below
Researchers working at Pembrokeshire's RSPB Grassholm nature reserve attached the cameras to a number of nesting gannets, with the results showing a bird flying high above the coastline while ships pass below. The footage also shows the bird landing in the bustling colony, skimming low over the water and spectacularly plunging into the sea at speed during a feeding dive.
The film was taken by a team led by Steve Votier, from the University of Exeter, and Mark Bolton from the RSPB.
Dr Votier has been carrying out research on the gannets on the tiny island of Grassholm off the Pembrokeshire coast for the last eight years.
The island, just nine hectares in size, is home to the fourth largest northern gannet colony in the world - with just under 40,000 pairs breeding there.
Dr Votier said the footage was obtained using a state-of-the-art miniature camera developed by the RSPB conservation science team.
"Seabirds spend most of their time at sea away from their nesting sites, making them difficult to study," he said.
"This camera really helps shed light on their behaviour away from the colony. For example, it allows us to more accurately investigate their reliance on discards from trawlers and how they interact with other birds while far from land."
Dr Bolton, principal conservation scientist at the RSPB, helped develop the devices.
He said: "The lightweight camera works alongside a GPS unit that allows us to accurately track birds' flight patterns and measure how long they are flying, feeding or resting.
"This information can answer both scientific and conservation questions and could contribute to the designation of marine conservation zones in Wales."
This technique has already shed new light on ways that gannets make use of waste from fishing boats.
'Gannet-cam' shows the bird skimming the waves and heading towards a trawler
It was found that male gannets tended to feed more at trawlers than females and this difference may have conservation implications when a ban on discarding is implemented under reforms to the EU common fisheries policy.
Dr Votier believes that in the long term the work will be hugely beneficial.
"Gannets are long-lived seabirds and there is still much to learn about their life away from the breeding colony," he said.
"The application of technology to study the private lives of gannets has been influential to our research in the short term, but the goal is to continue this work in the long term to help provide a sustainable future for gannets and other marine life."
Ramsey Island and Grassholm site manager Greg Morgan said: "Dr Votier's research has contributed greatly to our knowledge of our Grassholm gannets over the years and this is hopefully the first step in the next exciting chapter."
Additional reporting PA
Greenland’s dark snow may start global warming ‘feedback loop’
Climate change march: Investors pledge to take their money out of firms blamed for climate change
Climate change means rate of growth of trees has gone up by 77%
Badger found shot in the abdomen is 'proof' that cull is inhumane, activists say
Rockefellers go green: Rockefeller foundation divests funds in fossil fuel industries
- 1 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...
£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...
£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...